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Discovering what will improve recovery for people living with serious mental illness.

The mission of the North Carolina Psychiatry Research Center (NCPRC) is to conduct state-of-the-art clinical research to improve the mental and physical health of people with schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders in the state of North Carolina.

Formerly the Clinical Research Unit (CRU) of Dorothea Dix Hospital, which had been in operation since 1967, the CRU converted to an outpatient research clinic on the Dix campus in 2011 and became known as the NCPRC. Eventually the Research Center would moved to it’s current location with other CECMH Wake County programs to optimize its integration into the Center, the Raleigh community and local mental health service. NCPRC continues to partner with North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services.

Areas of Focus

Developing interventions for symptoms of schizophrenia for which current treatments are inadequate. These include:

  • Cognitive impairment. Antipsychotic medications do little to improve underlying cognitive deficits in schizophrenia.
  • Violence prevention. While people with schizophrenia are more often victims of violence, psychosis can be associated with violent behavior and the benefits of available treatments at reducing violence is not well known.
  • Tardive dyskinesia. A movement disorder associated with long term antipsychotic use for which limited treatment options exist.

Developing interventions aimed at the high rates of obesity and related cardiometabolic disorders (diabetes, hypertension) in people with schizophrenia. These include:

  • Exercise interventions (walking and more intense aerobic exercise) for improved physical health.
  • Pharmacological interventions to produce weight loss for people who have gained weight on antipsychotic medications or to prevent future weight gain for people who need to take medications with a high risk of causing weight gain.

Research Units

STEP Research Clinic: The STEP Research Clinic provides state-of-the-art clinical treatment to patients at any stage of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, or other serious mental illness. Patients may also choose to volunteer in approved research studies to advance knowledge and improve treatment options for these serious mental illnesses.

Community Outcomes Research and Evaluation Center: Community Outcomes Research and Evaluation Center (COREC) focuses on outcomes and program evaluation, quality improvement, and intervention research. Our goal is to support the mission of the Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to better the lives of people living with mental illnesses in North Carolina and beyond.